Studio visit: Jill Bliss

Aug 24, 2011

[All photos by me. Art images, Jill Bliss]

I have known artist Jill Bliss for several years now, since first meeting her at my Portland shop.  She had recently moved from the Bay Area and had setup a studio space in a classic Portland foursquare house.  Since then, we've had many meetups and run-ins, talking about art and our other shared fascinations- Prairie Underground clothes, the Asian culture, and good food. 

Jill's nature-inspired art goods can be found all across the country in little and big shops, an admirable feat for a one-person business.  Unfortunately, a hand injury this year has hindered Jill's drawing routine.  Being the resourceful and dedicated worker that she is, Jill still manages to stay very busy.  I paid Jill a visit at her home studio a couple of weeks ago to hear about her latest projects as well as give all of you a glimpse of her wonderful creative space. 

Jill at work, and her sweet 11 year-old dog, Lucy. 

What is one of your most prized possessions in your studio?

My vintage scientific wood drafting table. It's huge, it fully disassembles, it has two drawers underneath and footrest bars that perfectly hold my flat files. I will have and use it the rest of my life, and possibly request it to be used as my a funeral pyre when the time comes! Ha!

Jill's drawing of California Poppies is still one of my favorites of hers.  Every year they spring up in her garden.

What inspires you to create?

Learning about ecology - all the little pieces and how they fit together! So inspiring!

What are the things you love most about what you do, and what are the challenges?

I love creating visual reference guides for all the things I've learned, which is what my work has become. I love being my own boss, and I love interacting with people who appreciate and use my work. Current challenges are all related to not being able to draw as much or as quickly as I used to, thanks to aging and overuse, and the expense and stress of trying to maintain what's left. 

An artist can never have too much storage.  The wall and window ledges are perfect for Jill's smaller collections.

If you could change one thing about your art space, what would it be?

I would make one whole wall floor-to-ceiling cabinets with doors for storage to eliminate the visual clutter in here! And the other wall floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy the garden view.

The insanely detailed work of Jill's Anima series. 

What art project or accomplishment are you most proud of?

I love my Anima series as if they were my own children, and I'm very protective of them! Unless things get really super dire around here [I'm eying my pile of medical bills] you will never see my anima babies on mass-manufactured-in-china stuff!

Enjoying tea in Jill's sweet kitchen.

If you had a spare hour in the day, how would you spend it?

Meeting a friend for coffee, tea, or happy hour.

Clipboards are an easy way to organize loose papers.  The chair rail is a perfect spot for Jill's clipboards.

Staying organized is a challenge for many artists.  What are some simple tips that have helped you?

Clean as you go and put things back where they belong as soon as you are finished with them - easier said than done!

Jill makes business cards from recycled prints and stationary. 

What advice would you give to an artist starting out?

Are you sure you want to do this?! Just kidding- well, only a little. Hold on to your day job or other source of income as long as possible, and be prepared for lots of compromise - either your integrity or a normal lifestyle! Very few artists get to have both.  Many artists doing mostly self-generated work aren't paid well enough to afford all of the comforts of typical middle class life. Generally, self-generated work doesn't pay as handsomely as corporate work, and corporate work can be full of artistic and moral compromises. No matter what type of work you choose to do, even if your art is popular and paying all your bills now, there's no guarantee that the popularity will last. Have a back up plan/ career just in case - especially if you have or want to support a family! Nothing lasts forever!

Thanks Jill for a great interview! To see the plethora of art goodness from Jill, go to her website here. Jill has also launched a kickstarter campaign this month.  Pledge $25 to her new Anima project and receive a 16" x 20" poster of your choice!  Read more about it here.

And, once again, we'll be throwing another art giveaway, thanks to miss Jill.  See what's up for grabs tomorrow!


Dita Maulani said...

I love the insane detailed anima series. You're so lucky to have visited her is the studio. I love her art very much! Thank you for sharing ♥


Jennifer Allison said...

thanks for this bit of goodness. love how your blog is such a luscious combination of art, inspiration, and guidance. :)

your new works are've got me craving cooler weather now.

Melissa said...

Love the detail of her work! Thanks for sharing.

ThisTinder said...

Great interview! Down to earth advice from a wonderful artist. Really need to get on all of your storage ideas!!

lamina @ do a bit said...

What a great interview.. I have been a big fan of Jill Bliss for quite a while now and it's so nice to get a glimpse into her life... Hope her medical ailments and bills get better soon! Love the photos... thank you :)

Charissa said...

Great post. Thank you for bringing us behind the scenes with you!

Stubborn Dog Artwork said...

Wonderful interview! It's so nice to learn about the inspiration behind someone's work. The detail in these is terrific. Thank you so much for sharing!

jill bliss said...

wow, what a great thing to come home to after a week of camping off the grid! thanks cathy!

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